How Instagram and SEO Can Work Together

Among Internet marketing strategies, few have revolutionized the digital marketing landscape quite like social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have provided marketers with easy-to-use tools, allowing them to reach global audiences with a few clicks of the mouse. Companies have seen incredible returns on investment by leveraging social media in their marketing campaigns. As new platforms emerge, savvy marketers know that each one provides new opportunities. Instagram is a perfect example. In this guide, we’ll explore how Instagram and traditional search engine optimization (SEO) can unlock online visibility, giving companies even more reach in their respective marketplaces. 

Instagram: A Brief Overview

Launched in 2010 for the iOS operating environment, Instagram is a social networking platform that offers users easy ways to share photographs, images, and video content with others. In 2012, the company added Android compatibility to the service, and growth skyrocketed. That same year, social media juggernaut Facebook purchased the platform, giving it new traction in the online environment. 

As of May 2019, Instagram has over 1 billion registered users. It’s “Stories” feature, which gives users the ability to share posts for a limited time period, sees approximately 500 million users every day. With these staggering user numbers in mind, it is easy to see why digital marketers are flocking to the platform.

Instagram and SEO: Challenges and Solutions

Digital marketers may have noticed one glaring problem when moving to Instagram as a marketing platform: Instagram blocks search engines from categorizing images users post on the site. Company and individual profiles are able to be indexed by the search engines, but any images included in posts do not receive the same indexing. What can marketers do to overcome this challenge?

The key is to employ multi-channel internet marketing strategies; in other words, to cross-pollinate one’s Instagram profile by linking it to other social media sites (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook). Once you have authorized Instagram to access your profiles on the other sites, a link directly to the Instagram account will be fed to those other sites when you post.

Optimizing Instagram Posts for Search

Digital marketers have many tools at their disposal when it comes to getting an Instagram profile ready for maximum visibility in search results. Just like in traditional SEO, keywords are critical in improving visibility. Including a primary targeted keyword into the Instagram profile name is a great way to facilitate SEO. 

Another is to use keywords in the biographical information on the Instagram profile. Bios are restricted to 150 characters, so use discretion here. Adding keywords via hashtags can be a valuable workaround in the Instagram bio. 

While images on Instagram posts cannot be indexed by search engines, using keywords in image captions works similarly to adding title tags to webpages and blog posts. In other words, those captions will appear in search results along with the user’s name and profile. Again, the parameters are short, and marketers must ensure the most important information is at the front of the caption, thus making them appear in search results. 

Finally, bringing in followers with engaging, informative, and interesting posts is a time-honored way to improve SEO on all social media platforms, including Instagram. While followers and their likes, comments, and shares do not directly influence search engine rankings, they do generate “social signals” to search algorithms, thereby improving the perception of trustworthiness and relevance to search engines. An added benefit of more followers and shares is that they are more likely to link to your posts on Instagram across social media platforms, greatly improving visibility.

Instagram, by its nature, is not an SEO-friendly site. However, with the above tips and workarounds, this platform can be a valuable tool in the internet marketing strategies toolbox. Digital marketers know that despite the challenges of using Instagram, its huge user base and its fervent following make it an incredible platform for reaching new audiences around the world. 

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